Latvia. According to
CountryAAH, the year began with a couple of the government
crises that have become an almost chronic phenomenon in the
independent L. The background was political scandals, also
constantly recurring. A power struggle between Christian
Democratic Latvia's first party and liberal New Times ended
with New Times leaving the government. But despite a
minority position, Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis managed to
keep the government in power until the autumn elections.
When Parliament in the spring criminalized discrimination
in working life on the basis of, among other things, race
and religion, sexual orientation was removed from the text.
President Vaira Vīke-Freiberga again sent the law to
Parliament, which in protest extended the legislative text.
This summer's planned Pridefestival in Riga did not
receive municipal permission on the grounds that safety
could not be guaranteed. Instead of the festival a worship
service was held, and when the participants after the
worship service were attacked by protesters, the police were
accused of not intervening sufficiently.
At the October parliamentary elections, Aigar's Kalvitis
government became the first since independence to be
re-elected. Kalviti's Conservative People's Party got close
to 20%, the League of Green and Agrarian got close to 17%,
and the Alliance of Christian Democratic Latvia's first
party and the middle party of Latvia got about 8.5%. It gave
the tripartite coalition 51 of Parliament's 100 seats. In
order to strengthen the scarce majority, nationalist
Fosterland and freedom, with their eight mandates, were
incorporated as the fourth coalition party. The Left
Opposition got just over 20% of the vote in the election.
The Left is mainly supported by Russian-speaking voters, but
the newly formed party alliance Harmonic Center turned to
both Russians and Latvians.
During the year Latvia competed with Estonia for the EU's
highest economic growth, over 10%, but Latvia still had the
Union's second lowest GDP per inhabitant.
In November, Parliament stopped a proposal for damages to
the country's Jews for losses during the Holocaust and
during the Soviet occupation. President Vīke-Freiberga
described Parliament's decision as a lack of political
At the end of November, the NATO military alliance held
its summit in Riga, which was the first time on former
2008 The Latvian miracle is drowned in crisis
The global economic crisis hit Latvia hard. In 2008
alone, GDP fell by 10.5%, followed by a further decline of
17.8% in 2009. Unemployment rose from 7% in December 2008 to
14.3% in March 2009 and further to 22.3% in March 2010, and
youth unemployment nearly doubled to 44.9%. The highest
unemployment rate in the EU.
The fact that this could go wrong was because after the
2004 accession to the EU, the government had implemented an
expansionary economic policy, but based on borrowing. Growth
was not concentrated in production and export, but in
construction, housing and luxury consumption. This bubble
was at least twice the size of the Danish housing bubble,
and when the bubble burst, the damage became so much
greater, as the underlying production was limited and the
savings of Latvian households low.
On January 13, 2009, the opposition and trade union
movement called for a demonstration against the economic
crisis and the government's hardening of it. Demonstrations
gained 10-20,000 participants, but from being peaceful, it
developed violently as protesters went on attacks on shops
and police cars. 50 were injured and over 100 arrested. The
protesters tried to storm Parliament but were beaten back.
The protests against the government continued, its
popularity plummeted and it was unable to deal with the
economic crisis. In February, the government asked for a
loan of DKK 7½ billion. € from the IMF and the EU and at the
same time nationalized the country's second largest bank,
Parex, which was bankrupt. The problems escalated and at the
end of the month the government resigned, and the president
appointed Valdis Dombrovskis as new prime minister for a new
In February, over 1,000 farmers demonstrated with their
tractors against the government's unwillingness to protect
them from the import of cheap foreign food.
Homophobia is increasing in Latvia as in the other Baltic
states. In May, Riga authorized a march in the city for
gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals, but five days
later a majority in the city council overturned this
decision, arguing that the march was against public
veneration and a threat to public safety. The Riga district
court overturned this decision the following day, and the
following day the march was conducted under police
protection from a homophobe, who overwhelmed the march
participants with disgust.